The Underground Archives of the Bialystok Ghetto - Founded by Mersik and Tenenbaum
This article describes the incorporation of the Bialystok Ghetto archives into the Yad Vashem records under the following headings: founders; methods of collecting material; classification of material; Bialystok Judenrat documents; Mordecai Tenenbaum’s writings; statements, memoirs, reviews, and documents; details in Tenenbaum’s writings; how the archives were preserved from destruction. There follows a long appendix dated March 1, 1943, commencing with the relatively satisfactory life in Soviet-occupied Vilna before the German invasion. However, many Zionists were sent to Siberia. The Germans immediately imposed a discriminatory iron rule on the activities of the Jews, and the Lithuanians arrested and beat Jews on the streets and sent them to their deaths. The ghetto was a refuge for many. Some escaped from Vilna and were warmly welcomed into the relatively quieter conditions in the Bialystok Ghetto, where the movement established a kibbutz-like way of life. But things deteriorated. The ghetto was encircled and completely cut off from the partisans in the forests. Disease led to many deaths. The fate of all the ghetto inhabitants seemed to have been sealed. Dozens committed suicide. A list of kibbutz members appears. A second appendix looks at the mood in the ghetto. Most accepted their fate calmly. Unfortunately, informers divulged hiding places. The Jewish militia’s conduct was exemplary. People still rushed off to work hoping that “slavery” would save them. The last appendix, dated January 1943, is a manifesto urging Jews to resist, to die bravely.